Women in American politics have never been more prominent — yet the view from the visitors' gallery in the Capitol is still a sea of men's suits. Only 16 percent of congressional seats are held by females. Why aren't there more of us in those chairs? Or in statehouses across the country, where less than a quarter of those who serve are women? The short answer is that you have to be in it to win it, as Hillary Clinton says. Although men and women win at comparable rates, far fewer women actually run. So come on, buck the trend!
Women usually wait to run for office — until we're more established professionally, until the kids are older. Some simply wait to be asked. "Women tend to put it off," says Ilana Goldman, president of the Women's Campaign Forum, a nonprofit group that aims to get pro-choice women into office. She laughs about how men tend to think they've been recruited to run if a bartender casually remarks, "Hey, buddy, you could do that — you oughta run," whereas a woman can be all but begged by her party's pooh-bahs to appear on the ballot and still come away thinking, "Oh, but they didn't really mean it." Politics is, in many ways, a seniority system, Goldman says, so women hurt themselves if they wait. "If he starts running when he's 23 and she waits until she's 40, he has already built a donor base and knows the media. The best advice I could give to a young woman: Don't wait and don't worry about what you don't know — just get started."
DO A LITTLE LEGWORK
Decide what matters most to you. "If education is your top issue, then start by running for the school board," says Faith Winter, national field director for The White House Project, a nonprofit group that promotes women in politics. "If you're good with budget issues, go for the city council." Then figure out the political landscape. Next, meet with your city or county clerk to learn the rules. "They are there to help you," says Winter. She should know: At 27, she was recently elected to the Westminster City Council in Colorado.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO LOSE
Texas lawyer Barbara Ann Radnofsky ran for office for the first time in 2006 and lost to incumbent senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; now Radnofsky plans to run again — for Texas Attorney General in 2010. Since candidates often fail in their first run, that willingness to try a second time is key. Says Christine Jennings, a congressional candidate in southwest Florida, "I learned a long time ago that nothing worth doing is easy." She lost in '06 — in a race that's still under investigation amid reports of malfunctioning voting machines — and is set for an '08 rematch. "It's that power of permission that you have to give yourself," she says. "The permission not to be perfect and not to win the first time."
The Cannes Film Festival 2022: The Best Red Carpet Looks
Here's what everyone wore for the festival's 75th year.
By Sara Holzman
The 30 Best Black TV Shows Ever
Clear your schedule. You have some binge-watching to do
By The Editors
Take a Tour of Ali Wentworth's Personal Library
The author and actress shares her favorite reads in 'Shelf Portrait.'
By Neha Prakash
The Supreme Court's Mississippi Abortion Rights Case: What to Know
The case could threaten Roe v. Wade.
By Megan DiTrolio
Sex Trafficking Victims Are Being Punished. A New Law Could Change That.
Victims of sexual abuse are quietly criminalized. Sara's Law protects kids that fight back.
By Dr. Devin J. Buckley and Erin Regan
My Family and I Live in Navajo Nation. We Don't Have Access to Clean Running Water
"They say that the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are citizens still living with no access to clean water?"
By Amanda L. As Told To Rachel Epstein
30 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, show them these statistics.
By Megan Friedman
Today, on Human Rights Day, the U.S. Must Abolish Child Marriage
In all but six states, American adults can marry people aged 17 and younger.
By Saryn Chorney
Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson's Relationship Is No More
After three years of dating, the power couple have decided they're better off as friends.
By Marie Claire Editors
Education for Women and Girls Is Crucial for Climate Justice
In an excerpt from her new book, 'A Bigger Picture,' Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate discusses the impact educated African women and girls can have on solving the climate crisis.
By Vanessa Nakate
It’s Time to End Equal Pay Days and Pass the Equal Rights Amendment
The passage of the ERA is a chance for our country to prove it truly values women.
By Hala Ayala